Saturday, June 6, 2009

Suu Kyi party warned over trial criticism: media

YANGON (AFP) – Myanmar authorities have summoned members of Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy party to rebuke them for provoking "unrest" over a statement critical of her trial, state media reported Saturday.

Four senior members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) met officials for 30 minutes late Friday after comments by the party's youth wing were leaked to the website of a prominent blogger, the New Light of Myanmar said.

"Though NLD has rights for freedom of speech, the announcement... has harmed peace and stability and prevalence of law and order in the country and disturbed the trial proceedings of a court," the paper reported in English.

"That can mislead the people into misunderstanding the government, incite activities that may harm the public respect for the government, and cause unrest," it said.

Aung San Suu Kyi faces up to five years in jail on charges of breaching the conditions of her house arrest after a bizarre incident in which an American man, John Yettaw, swam to her lakeside home in May.

The NLD's youth members had circulated an internal document criticising the trial for being held mostly behind closed doors and highlighted international condemnation of the proceedings.

But the comments ended up on the "Niknayman" website, which is blocked in Myanmar as it is run by a well-known activist, and the New Light said their publication constituted a breach of the country's publishing laws.

The paper said the statement had falsely accused authorities of not allowing public reporting of the trial.

Local journalists and two Chinese reporters have been allowed in court along with diplomats to cover two of the 10 days of hearings being held inside Yangon's Insein prison, so far.

The four NLD members ordered to meet officials Friday were Than Tun, Nyunt Wai, Hla Pe and Soe Myint. They signed a document to acknowledge a formal warning by the authorities.

On Friday Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers presented appeal documents to a Yangon divisional court, asking the court to overturn a ban on three of four witnesses whom she called to give evidence at her trial.

A judge said a decision on the appeal would be given on Tuesday, June 9, three days before her prison trial reconvenes after a week-long adjournment.

US President Barack Obama has described the court proceedings as a "show trial" while Myanmar's usually reticent Asian neighbours have expressed strong concerns.

Japan's deputy minister for foreign affairs, Kenichiro Sasae, urged Myanmar's junta to listen to the concerns during his trip on Thursday and Friday to the capital Naypyidaw, the Japanese ministry said.

The Myanmar side replied that the government could not interfere in the trial, it added.

Sasae also said Tokyo hopes Myanmar will go ahead with establishing a democracy in line with international expectations, the ministry statement said.

Myanmar has been ruled by the military since 1962. Aung San Suu Kyi's party won 1990 polls but was never allowed to take office. She has been imprisoned for 13 of the past 19 years.

Elections are planned for next year but critics say they are designed only to entrench the military's power.

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